The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has upheld Costa Rica’s cockfighting ban by dismissing a complaint from the National Association of Cockfighting Breeders. 

Costa Rica banned cockfighting in 2022, and the activity is punishable with up to two years in prison. However, the ban was challenged by the cockfighting fraternity, alleging it was a “cultural tradition” and a “human right”. The challenge went to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which has now dismissed the complaint. 

The Commission concluded that banning cockfighting serves a legitimate purpose, which is the protection of the right to a healthy environment and the safeguarding of fauna and is necessary for the welfare of roosters raised in private venues. It also added that prohibiting cockfighting and breeding animals for fighting is a legitimate and proportional restriction.

Andrea Borel, executive director of Humane Society International/Latin America, said, “This is a great victory, both nationally and regionally, against cruel blood spectacles and sets a historical precedent for other fights against cruel shows involving animals. At HSI, we strongly oppose cockfighting, which results in injury, suffering, and death for the animals who are forced to fight. Such activities amount to animal abuse for entertainment and have no place in modern society.” 

Cockfighting is illegal in many countries around the world (and now in all states of the US after a long campaign) but it remains legal in many regions, including the Philippines, Peru, the Dominican Republic, and some Mexican states. It is estimated that tens of millions of roosters suffer from cockfighting every year, particularly in regions where it remains prevalent despite being banned.

In the US, cockfighting is illegal at both the federal and state levels, but thousands of roosters of fighting breeds are still raised across the country, possibly more in Oklahoma as it was one of the last states to ban cockfighting. Last year, a former district director of the Oklahoma Game Fowl Commission was fined and charged with a felony for facilitating a cockfight, but the felony charge was later dismissed.

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Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.